Operation Ellamy was the codename for
the United Kingdom participation in the 2011 military intervention in Libya. The
operation was part of an international coalition aimed at enforcing a Libyan
no-fly zone in accordance with the United Nations Security Council
Resolution 1973 which stipulated that “all necessary measures” shall be taken
to protect civilians. The coalition operation was designated by the US as
Operation Odyssey Dawn. The Canadian participation is Operation Mobile and
the French participation is Opération Harmattan. It was confirmed in December
2011 that the cost of the operations was £212m – less than was estimated,
including £67m for replacing spent munitions, is all expected to be met
from the Treasury reserve. The no-fly zone was proposed during the
Libyan Civil War to prevent government forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi from
carrying out air attacks on anti-Gaddafi forces. Several countries prepared to
take immediate military action at a conference in Paris on 19 March 2011.
The randomly generated codename, “Ellamy,” is an alternate spelling of
the Early Modern English word, Elami, a musical solmisation designating the note
E in the context of a tetrachord. The spelling “Ellamy” is found in a poem
frequently attributed to John Skelton, “The Harmony of Birds”.
Background to operation The UN Security Council Resolution 1973
passed on the evening of 17 March 2011 gave a mandate to countries wishing to
enforce a no-fly zone over Libya militarily. A conference involving
international leaders took place in Paris on the afternoon of Saturday 19
March 2011. International military action commenced after the conference
finished, with French military fighter jets being the first to participate in
the operation only a few hours after the conference finished in Paris with the
first shot fired at 1645 GMT against a Libyan tank.
Deployed forces Royal NavyHMS York, a Type 42 Destroyer
HMS Cumberland, a Type 22 frigate HMS Sutherland, a Type 23 frigate
HMS Iron Duke, a Type 23 frigate HMS Triumph, a Trafalgar-class submarine
HMS Turbulent, a Trafalgar-class submarine
HMS Liverpool, a Type 42 destroyer HMS Bangor , Sandown-class minehunter in
a maritime surveillance role HMS Brocklesby
HMS Ocean 2 x Lynx Mk 7 from Joint Helicopter
Command 2 x Sea King Mk 4 from Joint Helicopter
Command 1 x Lynx Mk 8 from 815 Naval Air
Squadron Royal Air Force
Joint Force Air Component Headquarters at RAF Akrotiri
Headquarters 906 Expeditionary Air Wing at Gioia del Colle Air Base10 × Typhoon
multirole fighters from RAF Coningsby and RAF Leuchars,
16 × Tornado GR4 interdictor/strike aircraft from RAF Marham
Headquarters 907 Expeditionary Air Wing at RAF Akrotiri3 × Sentry AEW.1 AWACS
aircraft from RAF Waddington 1 x Nimrod R1 signals intelligence
aircraft 1 x Sentinel R1 airborne standoff radar
aircraft from RAF Waddington 2 × VC10 air-to-air refuelling tankers
from RAF Brize Norton Force Elements Operated from UK
Tornado GR4 interdictor/strike aircraft from RAF Marham
TriStar K1 & KC1 air-to-air refuelling tankers from RAF Brize Norton
British Army 4 x Apache AH1.
7 Signal Regiment Detachment. 22 Signal Regiment Detachments.
Elements of United Kingdom Special Forces
Summary of operation Day 1 – 19 March 2011
On the afternoon of 19 March, the Royal Navy Trafalgar-class submarine HMS
Triumph fired Tomahawk cruise missiles. A combined total along with US over the
day was reported by the US to be over 110 missiles. The Royal Navy also has a
Type 22 frigate and a Type 23 frigate engaged in a naval blockade.
David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, confirmed that British
aircraft were in action over Libya on the 19th, although it was the French Air
Force who made the first coalition aerial presence over Libya earlier the
same day. Sentry, Sentinel and VC-10 aircraft were
said to be carrying out operations from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus. The home base
for the VC-10 aircraft was RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire and for the
Sentinel and Sentry aircraft was RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire.
On the night of 19–20 March 2011, Storm Shadow missiles were launched by Tornado
GR4 aircraft. Tornados of No. 9 Squadron from RAF Marham had sortied on a 3,000
mi mission to fire Storm Shadow missiles against targets in Libya. They required
refuelling by British tanker aircraft three times on the outward journey and
once on the return. 101 Sqn VC10 and 216 Sqn Tristar aircraft were involved.
Day 2 – 20 March 2011 The MoD announced that Tornado and
Typhoon aircraft would be deployed to the Italian Gioia del Colle Air Base.
The Trafalgar-class submarine HMS Triumph launched further Tomahawk cruise
missiles at targets in Libya. Tornados GR4s, flying from Marham, were
en route to Libya but did not fire their missiles due to information being
received that suggested civilians were in the target areas. The Tornado
aircraft returned to RAF Marham fully armed.
Day 3 – 21 March 2011 The Prime Minister announced to the
House of Commons on 21 March at the start of the debate on the UNSC
resolution that RAF Typhoons had been deployed to an Italian airbase and would
fly in support of the NFZ. Three Typhoons successfully conducted a
mission and returned to Gioia del Colle. Headquarters 906 Expeditionary Air Wing
formed at Gioia del Colle Air Base responsible for assets forward deployed
there. Headquarters 907 Expeditionary Air Wing formed at RAF Akrotiri
responsible for assets forward deployed there. C-17A Globemaster and Hercules
transport aircraft were also used to assist in the buildup of deployed
forces. Day 4 – 22 March 2011
RAF Typhoons flew their first ever combat mission, patrolling the no-fly
zone while Tornado GR4s from RAF Marham flew an armed reconnaissance sortie. The
MoD reported that Royal Navy ships Triumph, Westminister and Cumberland
remained in theatre for additional strikes and patrol.
Day 5 – 23 March 2011 Tornado GR4s were forwarded deployed to
Gioia del Colle Air Base. In a media interview, the UK Air Component
Commander, Air Vice-Marshal Greg Bagwell, stated that the Libyan Air
Force “no longer exists as a fighting force” and that “we have the Libyan
ground forces under constant observation and we attack them whenever they
threaten civilians or attack population centres.”
Day 6 – 24 March 2011 Tomahawk Cruise Missiles were again
fired at targets from HMS Triumph RAF Tornado aircraft on an armed
reconnaissance mission launched Brimstone missiles against Libyan
armoured vehicles that were reported to be threatening the civilian population
of Adjdabiya. Four T-72 tanks were destroyed in the attack by Tornados, and
three by another coalition aircraft. Likely target locations had previously
been identified by other Tornado aircraft equipped with RAPTOR pods.
Day 7 – 25 March 2011 RAF Tornado aircraft launched more
Brimstone missile strikes, destroying three armoured vehicles in Misrata and
two further armoured vehicles in Ajdabiya.
Day 9 – 27 March 2011 Over the weekend, Tornados from Gioia
del Colle launched numerous armed reconnaissance missions, during the
course of which ordnance released hit a total of 22 tanks, armoured vehicles and
artillery pieces in the vicinity of Ajdabiya and Misrata.
Day 10 – 28 March 2011 Tornados from RAF Marham, supported by
Tristar tankers from RAF Brize Norton, launched Storm Shadow strikes against
ammunition bunkers in the Sabha area in the southern Libyan desert. The bunkers
were reportedly used to resupply Libyan Government troops attacking civilians in
the north of the country. The Type 42 Destroyer Liverpool was
ordered to the Mediterranean to relieve Type 22 frigate Cumberland.
Day 11 – 29 March 2011 The London Conference on Libya was
chaired by the Foreign Secretary, William Hague.
Two Tornados flying from Gioia del Colle engaged near Misrata a Libyan armoured
fighting vehicle and two artillery pieces with Brimstone missiles.
Day 12 – 30 March 2011 Tornados flying from Gioia del Colle
engaged near Misrata three Libyan tanks, two armoured fighting vehicles and a
surface-to-air missile site with Brimstone missiles and Paveway IV bombs.
HMS Liverpool was deployed to relieve HMS Cumberland.
Day 13 – 31 March 2011 From 06:00 GMT, NATO took sole command
of air operations over Libya under Operation Unified Protector, taking over
from US Africa Command. Day 15 – 2 April 2011
HMS Triumph returned to base HMNB Devonport flying the Jolly Roger marked
for six successful Tomahawk launches. RAF Tornado aircraft launched Paveway IV
bombs against pro-Gaddafi forces. Two main battle tanks in Sirte and several
small ground-attack aircraft on an airfield near Misrata were reportedly
hit. Day 16 – 3 April 2011
RAF Tornados reportedly launched successful attacks with Paveway IV and
Brimstone missiles on ten armoured fighting vehicles south of Sirte.
Day 17 – 4 April 2011 The number of Tornado aircraft taking
part in Operation Ellamy was increased from eight to twelve on 4 April, with
the aircraft deployed from RAF Marham. RAF Tornados, engaged in two separate
strikes in the Libyan city of Sirte, launched three Brimstone missiles which
destroyed one main battle tank and two surface-to-air missile launchers.
Day 22 – 9 April 2011 Seven tanks were destroyed by Tornado
aircraft, two in Ajdabiya and five in Misrata, using Paveway IV bombs and
Brimstone missiles. Day 23 – 10 April 2011
The MoD reported that over the weekend of 22–23 April, of 61 armoured vehicles
and air defence assets destroyed by NATO, 21 were destroyed by RAF aircraft.
Day 25 – 12 April 2011 HMS Turbulent was declared available in
theatre by the MoD for Tomahawk strikes should they be required.
RAF Typhoon aircraft were used operationally in a ground attack role
for the first time. A Typhoon destroyed 2 main battle tanks near Misrata with
Paveway II whilst a Tornado destroyed the third with Paveway IV. In total, RAF
aircraft destroyed eight main battle tanks on 12 April. Since the start of
Operation ELLAMY up until 12 April, RAF aircraft had engaged over 100 main
battle tanks, artillery pieces, armoured vehicles and SAMs.
Day 31–18 April 2011 RAF Tornados and Typhoons attacked a
pair of multiple rocket launcher vehicles and a light artillery piece
reportedly firing on Misrata, as well as a self-propelled gun and tank.
HMS Triumph was reported by the MoD to have launched two salvoes of Tomahawk
missiles against command and control facilities alongside precision strikes
by RAF Tornados, Typhoons and coalition aircraft.
HMS Liverpool intercepted the vessel MV Setubal Express heading for Tripoli,
conducting a boarding party search with Royal Marines and finding trucks of
potential use to the Gaddafi regime. The merchant vessel was ordered to divert to
Salerno in Italy. Day 32 – 19 April 2011
The Foreign Secretary announced that a British Military Liaison Advisory Team
was to be sent to Benghazi to advise the NTC on how to improve their military
organisational structures, communications and logistics.
Day 43 – 30 April 2011 HMS Brocklesby destroyed a buoyant mine
containing over 100 kg of high explosive. Using her sonar and
underwater mine disposal system, Seafox, the mine was destroyed one mile from the
entrance to Misrata harbour, making the waters safe for aid ships to enter
Day 49 – 6 May 2011 Tornados attacked a site south of Sirte
based on analysis of intelligence by RAF Tactical Imagery Wing. 20 FROG-7
launchers and a significant number of Scud canisters were reported as either
completely or partially destroyed. RAF aircraft also destroyed one tank and two
armoured vehicles in the area of Misrata and one mobile rocket launcher south of
Tripoli. Day 55 – 12 May 2011
An RAF Typhoon was reported to have destroyed two Palmaria 155mm howitzers
near Sirte. While engaged in surveillance operations
off the coast of the rebel-held Libyan city of Misrata, HMS Liverpool came
under fire from a shore battery, making her the first Royal Navy warship to be
deliberately targeted since the Falklands War. Liverpool had been tasked
with other NATO warships, to intercept small, high-speed inflatable craft
spotted approaching the port of Misrata, the type which had been used previously
to lay mines in the Port of Misrata. Libyan rocket artillery on the coast
fired an inaccurate salvo of rockets at Liverpool. Liverpool returned fire with
her 4.5-inch main gun, silencing the shore battery, in the Royal Navy’s first
use of the weapon since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Day 59 – 16 May 2011 Royal Navy Tomahawk missiles reportedly
fired from HMS Triumph, and Paveway IV bombs released by RAF Tornado aircraft
were reported to have struck intelligence agency buildings and a
training base used by Colonel Gaddafi’s Executive Protection Force. RN and RAF
attacks were reported to have damaged or destroyed over 300 targets since the
start of Operation Ellamy. Day 62 – 19/20 May 2011
Tornado GR4s hit two Nanuchka-class corvettes in Al Khums naval base and
destroyed a facility in the dockyard constructing fast inflatable boats which
Libyan forces had reportedly used to mine Misrata and attack vessels in the
area. Day 63 – 20 May 2011
RAF aircraft destroyed five multiple rockets launchers around Tripoli.
Day 67 – 24 May 2011 RAF aircraft attacked four armoured
vehicles deployed near the Libyan city of Zlitan. A Tornado attacked a Libyan
coastal radar station near Brega, which was destroyed with a dual-mode seeker
Brimstone missile. Day 68 – 25 May 2011
A vehicle depot at Tiji was attacked by a Typhoon FGR4 and a Tornado GR4
dropping four Enhanced Paveway II and five Paveway IV weapons between them.
Day 70 – 27 May 2011 HMS Ocean deployed with a complement of
4 Apache helicopters to aid operations. Day 77 – 3 June 2011
The Response Force Task Group withdrew from COUGAR 11 and was deployed to
supplement UK forces in Operation Ellamy.
Day 102 – 28 June 2011 HMS Liverpool used her main gun to fire
warning shots at pro-Gaddafi maritime forces moving along Libya’s
Mediterranean coast just west of the city of Misrata, amid concerns a threat
was posed to civilians due to recent repeated attempts to mine the harbour.
After initially ignoring the first shell, a further three were fired and
the vessels were forced to return to their port of departure.
Day 107 – 3 August 2011 Several rockets were fired at HMS
Liverpool. She returned fire with her 4.5-inch main gun. The attack came after
the ship had fired a barrage of illumination rounds in support of an air
attack on the stronghold of Zliten. Day 145 – 10 August 2011
RAF Tornados launched direct from RAF Marham in Norfolk to target command and
control and air defence targets with Stormshadow cruise missiles.
Day 151 – 16 August 2011 Since the start of military operations
on 19 March, Royal Air Force, Royal Navy, and Army Air Corps precision
strikes were reported to have damaged or destroyed some 870 former regime
targets. HMS Liverpool was involved in the most
intense shore-bombardment of the war. Liverpool had been tasked by a patrol
aircraft to fire illumination rounds over the city of Zlitan. While
conducting this mission, Liverpool came under fire from a Loyalist
shore-battery. Liverpool responded by firing three rounds from her 4.5 inch
gun, silencing the battery. Later on the same day, a patrol aircraft spotted a
large pro-Gaddafi vehicle convoy carrying weapons and ammunition.
Liverpool fired 54 shells from her 4.5 inch gun at the convoy, destroying or
severely damaging many of the vehicles. During the ensuing chaos on the ground,
NATO aircraft destroyed the remainder of the convoy.
External links Operation Ellamy